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I think we're going solar

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by jerrymildred, Feb 5, 2021.

  1. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Curiously, I saw a credible report that solar cells/panels are starting a steep price reduction. But remember, a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush.

    Bob Wilson
     
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  2. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Here in Washington State, residential excess is also given free to the utility, so installing more capacity than needed for annual net-zero brings no return to the homeowner. The annual March 31 zeroing-out of carryover excess wasn't implemented locally until recently. I lost a couple hundred kWh this time, just a few percent of my annual production. We originally had greater excess, but more devices and reduced conservation effort have cause our usage to increase.
     
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  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    ma has some kind of payback system for solar production. my cpa said it is so complicated, she doesn't bother trying to understand it, but she gets a check for a few hundred bucks a couple times a year.
     
  4. R-P

    R-P Active Member

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    Is this excess counted over an entire year?
    In the Netherlands we can use more in the winter and this is offset by producing more in the summer. I understood it is/was the same way in the US. But this will be lowered from 100% to 80% next year, then 60% etc. So right now, a battery is insane as the grid itself is a free battery, but that will change in a few years so then a battery might become interesting. (The grid never fails us here, it is measures in minutes downtime per year, so we have no need for back-up systems).
    Surplus (measured at the end of the yearly contract) is, at this time, rewarded with 9ct/kWh (being close to the kWh price without all taxes). But just last week, an energy company introduced a fine for having a surplus (luckily not my provider as I have a surplus of 2MWh or more since I installed some new panels this year)

    At the same time we have energy contracts PER HOUR based on the expected sun/wind power one day in advance. Very few people have such a contract yet, but there have been prices of -61ct. Yes, you GET (61ct (minus 19ct tax, so) 42ct per kWh you USE. So turning on your AC full blast with the windows open will MAKE you money. But this is because at those times the green energy from sun and wind surpasses the need for energy. It's a perverse system that you can make money by wasting energy, but until we get mass storage, it's a reality here in Western Europe. We also have grid tied inverters shutting OFF during those times as the voltage of the (local) grid gets too high in neighborhoods with too many panels. (We have 230Vac 50Hz and at 230V + 10%, so 253V, all inverters shut down as a mandatory safety feature).

    I lost my train of thought, but the above might mention some things that are not yet relevant in the US but may become an issue in the future.

    Personally I've been thinking about getting a battery and an hourly contract, so when the energyprice is negative, I pump lots of current into the battery and hook the inverter running of off the battery up to my neighbors grid: I get e.g. 20ct/kWh from using power and he gets 9ct/kWh for putting it back...:ROFLMAO: I wonder how long it would take for the energycompany to figure out something is fishy...
     
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  5. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    In my state, this is over the solar energy year, April 1 to March 31. We have most of the standard winter to consume our summer over-production, before the net metering credits are erased. Other states likely have different regulations.

    I don't recall the overall grid ever failing in my region, though it has in certain others. We do have local outages from very many local distribution faults during storms (and occasional high speed vehicle crashes into power poles), and much less frequent larger intermediate-system outages too.

    Numerous other states do this, though some without similarly generous prices. My state does not, just carrying over net-meter credits through the winter until March 31. I'm not aware of any states that do both.


    I haven't heard of such inverse pricing occurring in the U.S., for electricity. It did happen with spot market crude oil, for just a few hours, one day several years ago (April 20, 2020), when oversupply at an exchange terminal exceeded storage capacity, and pollution regulations don't allow them to dump it onto the ground or into the water.

    My area doesn't yet have enough wind and PV capacity for this to be an issue. Hawaii does, and inverters there (my model at least, I'm just presuming others do the same) are programmed to work with wider voltage and frequency deviations before tripping offline.

    Some places have used this risk as their excuse to slow-walk the permitting process, or even deny connections. The last I heard, @JimboPalmer wasn't allowed any solar back-feed at all, under a municipal utility system that was exempted from state laws requiring other utilities to take solar connections and energy.
     
    #285 fuzzy1, Aug 23, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2023
  6. srellim234

    srellim234 Senior Member

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    FWIW, we put in our system about 3 years ago and opted not to go with batteries, instead choosing to remain connected to the grid for nights and bad weather/outages. Most months NV Energy charges us $13 to be hooked up to the grid; our panels supply enough energy back to them to cover our actual electrical usage. In July we had multiple days of 122*F and virtually the entire month was near 115*F or warmer. To provide a little relief to people running the a/c 24/7 because of the heat NV Energy dropped the grid hookup price, making our bill for the hot month only $5! The panels still took care of all of our electrical needs. Our system is SunPower and expandable should we choose to get a plug-in car or spa. We're very happy with the system but not with SunPower's monitoring of the system or their smartphone app..
     
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  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    How was sunpower during installation and ongoing maintenance?
    All the prices we’re getting are similar and same with reviews.
    One company did tell us there was too much shade
     
  8. srellim234

    srellim234 Senior Member

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    Design and installation with them was excellent. SunPower took care of everything including having people on site to answer any questions for the building code and safety inspection.

    Our problems didn't occur until last year. Unless you pay a premium their app only shows if the system is producing power. If you want to compare production to usage that's what requires paying extra so as long as our electric bill remained at $13 we didn't worry about it and didn't use the app. SunPower was supposed to be monitoring the system from there.

    Last September we had a major storm blow through and one of the panels was damaged by falling concrete roof tiles. No response from them. We had to call them. In the course of setting up replacing it they proceeded to tell us, " Oh, BTW, we noticed your system quit communicating with us over three months before the storm." They had no idea if the system was working, had no idea if it was damaged or not and we had to call them despite the fact they were supposed to be monitoring it as part of our installation package when it finally was damaged.

    The actual repair installation was very good. The system itself continued to operate on one less panel for 3 months because we all had to wait for the roofing company to come up with tiles that would work. The broken ones had been discontinued years ago and the original tile company is out of business.

    Our other gripe is about their referral program. We were supposed to get $500 for every time we referred a customer to them and they sold a system as a result. We referred a neighbor; he told them and filled out the referral paperwork for us to collect. No $500, not even a thank you from the salesman or the company.

    EDIT: As for shade, Bisco, Laughlin is not noted for having much shade but we do have one big tree in the front yard they factored into the placement of the panels. One panel was moved to the east side of the roof and multiple panels and the panels on the south side were moved to avoid potential winter and spring shade. Others were placed on the south facing second story roof to work around the tree,
    .
     
    #288 srellim234, Aug 28, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2023
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    thanks man!
     
  10. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I got a preliminary contract back from my contractor today.

    Looking at a 15kW system on a frame in the yard. Panels & frame made in USA.

    Works out to $3.16/Watt installed, which feels about right.

    The general plan is to install the solar this fall and get that juicy 30% tax credit next year.

    I'll also install a new heatpump system to cover about 1/3 of the house to claim a different tax credit next year.

    Then in January I'll get a second heatpump system to cover a different 1/3 of the house, for a tax credit in the following year.

    (the last 1/3 of the house already has a heatpump system)

    In 2025 I'd be looking for a heatpump water heater, and at that point my oil furnace is technically out of a job... though I don't plan to remove it for a while.
     
    #290 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Aug 28, 2023
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  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    the heat pumps will take care of all your heat regardless of outside temp?
     
  12. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    On paper it'll do for us down to about -10°F, and we've only seen one day as low as -3°F in the past 8 years here.

    ...This is part of why the oil system doesn't get ripped out right away, and we still have a pretty good wood heat rig too.
     
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  13. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    our cpa said their heat pump is great most of the time, but the oil burner is there as a backup and does get a little use. idk the specifics though. -10 would certainly be fine around here.

    i'm trying to find someone who can tell me if a central heat pump will work with our high speed a/c.
     
  14. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Awesome! I hadn't heard that they raised it back up. It was down to 26% when we got ours.
     
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  15. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    wow! pretty brave there acknowledging a burning wood thing now days.
    ;)
    Regarding the PV - any stats on what kind of weak winter output expectations there might be? Asking because our azimuth (besides snow & clouds) in winters is not ideal for solar ..... being only 1¼ hours away from Canada's border.
    .
     
  16. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Hardly anyone complains about the neighborhood's dirty smokey air when the electric grid is down. Though maybe that is because hardly anyone is on social media then? ;)

    Don't look at a sample from far away, go instead to NREL's (National Renewable Energy Lab) PVWatts calculator. It takes into account not just latitude, but also typical local weather and climate:

    PVWatts Calculator

    Here is a sample generic-system output for a 10kW system at Kalispell, note that December production is about 20% of July production:
    upload_2023-8-30_11-1-47.png

    That is for a generic 10kW system. You can customize it to better reflect your system size, orientation, roof slope, and other factors to drill down better.

    For my location, and not accounting for shading of neighboring trees, it shows that my 7kW system ought to typically run 7,500 kWh/year, with January's overcast season being the worst at under 18% of July production. Enphase's records shows me averaging 80% of that annually, with the greatest discrepancy in December when the sun is lowest and tree shadowing relatively greatest, and occasional days lost to snow coverage. Note also the year-to-year variability of any given month, due to weather differences. Annual variation is less.

    upload_2023-8-30_11-25-22.png
     
    #296 fuzzy1, Aug 30, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2023
  17. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    What a difference location makes!! My inverters top out at 4.8 kW. Last year I made a total of 10,500 kWh. And Nov. & Dec. last year were about 20% less than the same two months the previous year. So far this year, we're at 7,600 kWh.
     
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  18. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    I have a zoom with summit solar today, anyone have any info?
     
  19. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    This is a great site - & it would seem the only variables left to actually be calculated by installers would be taking into account trees - especially non-perennials - the varying amount of roof areas - especially facing southerly Etc.
     
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  20. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    The house came with a high efficiency fireplace insert, apparently got top honors for the year it was made.

    When I operate it correctly, it is smokeless. Can't see or smell a thing out the chimney. (yes, there's something, scientifically detectable I'm sure... but you really can't see it from the front porch)

    The less fun side is that operating it "correctly" depends on having fuel cut to the right size for the heat output you want. If you try burning big logs and choking down the air, it will smolder and get smoky. Burn smaller chunks instead and it goes clean with reduced overall heat. Not at all convenient.

    So I can't claim that I operate it in full clean mode all the time, but it sure ain't bad.

    My electrician tells me that a 10-12kW system would get me to net zero over 12 months, and with the 15kW system we are now designing I'd be closer to "never getting a bill" and taking refunds all summer. That will not hold because we are adding heat pump electrical loads, so maybe just maybe this will be back to 12-month net zero.